In NFL, dual-threat QBs are running away with the position


As I watched the MNF interview with Robert Griffin III, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Jalen Hurts preceding the Commanders-Eagles battle to finish off a stellar week 10, something caught my eye. 

The basis of the interview was how not only the three latter QBs mentioned changed Philadelphia football forever, but how they sparked a new standard among what pedigree is sought after in a single-caller. 

When I heard this, a lightbulb lit in my head.

I am not old enough to remember the prime years of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but I am old enough to witness and look back on the rise of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, and Kyler Murray. 

The common denominator among all five of these guys is the fact that they not only have lethal arm talent, but they can take off and run around as they please when the pocket is not favorable. 

This is the new breed of NFL quarterbacks. Now more than ever, NFL coaches and GMs look for “positionless” QBs, the signal-callers who are able to do their usual job, which is throw dimes, but also play the part of RB when the time calls for it. 

There is one team, however, who has had a recent history of not prioritizing these types of quarterbacks: the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Their best two quarterbacks in their franchise’s history, Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger, were pocket QBs more than anything else. 

Big Ben, who was known for playing the role of pocket QB, did have underrated dual-threat ability, as he ran 515 times over the course of 18 years for 1,373 yards and 20 touchdowns, per ESPN. 

In two years of his career, he topped 5 yards per rush. 

As a younger fan such as myself, you may think “Well, that’s because he hasn’t been around the game enough to see things”. 

However, I beg to differ. I am 17 years old, and the earliest memory I have of watching football was during Super Bowl 50 in 2016. 

Funnily enough, the two quarterbacks in that matchup, Peyton Manning for the Broncos and Cam Newton for the Panthers, couldn’t be more different. 

Manning rarely scrambled, and he dissected defenses with his arm and smarts. On the other hand, Newton had great arm talent as well as running back strength. Put that together, and you get the origin of today’s QB. 

Around a year following the 50th edition of the biggest game in football, a Texas Tech quarterback by the name of Patrick Mahomes II came into the fold, as he was selected by the Chiefs with the 10th overall selection in the 2017 draft. 

The QB that went off the board before him, Mitchell Trubisky to the Bears at number two, and the one after him, Deshuan Watson to the Texans at number 12, were also both dual-threat signal-callers like Mahomes. 

Since we are discussing running-back-esque talent from quarterbacks, a nugget from all three of these guys is that combined, they ran into the endzone 56 times in their collegiate careers. 

Watson had the most, at 26 scores. Mahomes was a tad behind him, at 22. Finally, Trubisky was way behind, accounting for the final 8.

As of the writing of this article, Mahomes has had 9 rushing touchdowns in his NFL career. Watson, just like in college, has the most so far with 17. 

Mitch Trubisky, surprisingly, has more than Mahomes, at 10 rushing scores. 

For all of the Trubisky fans out there, another fun tidbit is that Trubisky became the first quarterback ever to start at least 50 games and not throw a single pick-six in 2020-21, and Mahomes and Watson have each already thrown one. 

Anyway, the reason I bring up all of these stats is because of the notion that if you want to be successful with your quarterback in today’s game, he has to have Swiss-army-knife talent. 

If we move to 2018, the Ravens drafted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson at 32 overall in that year’s draft, and unless you have been living under a rock, you know what he has done as a runner. 

His sophomore season, Jackson took home NFL MVP honors following a record-breaking 1,206 rush yards, which passed Michael Vick for the most in a single season by a QB. 

Lamar also became the first QB ever to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a single season. 


And we all remember that extravagant spin move against the Bengals, right? Yeah, the one that got announcer Kevin Harlan saying Jackson is “Houdini!” 

Following his magical campaign, Jackson has started to develop into a solid passer, with 58 passing touchdowns and 28 interceptions from 2020-today. 

Fast forward to a year ago, as five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. 

The first four had dual-threat skills, in Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. The fifth was Mac Jones at 15 overall to the Patriots. 

The quarterback that has truly started to show his dual-threat talents is Justin Fields, as he ran for 178 yards and 147 yards in his last two games, respectively, and accounted for eight of the Bears touchdowns in those matchups. 

To add more icing on the cake, Fields threw five touchdowns compared to only one interception (his first career pick-six), in these two home battles against the Dolphins and Lions. 

If you want to see more analysis on Fields’ growth from yours truly, click here. 

In terms of who has started to make a name for himself among the 2021 QB Draft class, Justin Fields is the one. 

All in all, if you have kept count, 18 dual-threat quarterbacks were mentioned in this article, and only six pocket quarterbacks.

Come back to this in a couple of years and see the continued evolution of the NFL quarterback. The gap between these last numbers will certainly widen even more.